Can You Trust Online Feedback?

December 11, 2017

From eBay to Amazon to supermarket sites like Asda, there’s a common problem that plagues many e-Commerce sites, as well as any reviewing system, like Google’s business listing services, Yelp and so on – a lot of reviews are fake. Some of them are bought from unscrupulous companies looking to exploit people’s trust in unbiased reviews, some are astroturfing/sockpuppeting campaigns performed by the company to make them look better, and sometimes a barrage of negative reviews can hit you for seemingly no reason. The biggest problem is that it’s hard to tell who’s being honest and who’s posting reviews in bad faith.

Fake reviews tend to have some common aspects that can help identify them: poor grammar and syntax, reviews posted by new accounts that are thrown away after use, extreme vagueness and so on. Unfortunately, a lot of genuine feedback can come from new accounts and English may not be their first language. Removing reviews that look fake but are actually genuine can lead to backlash if you’re not careful, which is why fake reviews are so prevalent on the internet, with datamining experts stating that up to a third of user reviews online are fake.

If you’re going to take a proactive stance against fake reviews, you need to careful and take a logical approach to removing them. Pride can drive people to rash actions that will cause backlash later on, if you removed a real review. Things like threatening legal action or promising ‘revenge’ on the poster will obviously be a PR disaster if it turns out you’re wrong. Publicly responding to fake reviews can draw attention to the review, and if you adopt a hostile tone, people will get the impression that you’re trying to silence criticism. Whatever you do, don’t make the fake reviewer a martyr.

If you think you have a genuine case of a faker, flagging the review will begin the process of removing the review, after moderation by a site member. Maintaining professionalism about the removal of user reviews, as stated earlier, is extremely important here. If the moderators agrees that the review is fake, it’ll be gone and the vast majority of the internet won’t notice it.

A proportional, straightforward and professional response to fake reviews is to not engage with them. In many cases, they’re looking for the attention that their review will get and if the company they’re reviewing blows a gasket publicly, they got exactly what they wanted. Regardless of the motive for posting a fake review, it’s important that you take a proactive response to them. At Soft Intelligence, we are passionate about gathering customer feedback and soft intelligence from your clients and customers, transforming it into straightforward and accurate data that turns the hassle of feedback processing into a breeze. Take a look at our consumer mobile apps (Tell SID) and see if your company would benefit from them.

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